Recently I’ve really been struggling with my health issues. And as a Christian I struggle with discussing my health with fellow Christians because I’ve been told that I don’t pray hard enough; that God will heal me if I ask; that my illness is the Devil working in my life or it’s some sort of punishment.
Usually I just smile politely and let the person continue, but ‘m feeling grumpy today…
First of all, no one, and I mean no one, on this planet in corporeal form can judge how hard someone prays. Got it, no one. I can’t know how strong your prayer life really is, and you can’t make assumptions about mine. We can see what someone’s prayer life looks like, how often, how long, etc.; but how strong it is, is between them and the god to which they pray – or don’t pray.
Secondly, you don’t think I’ve asked to get better? You don’t think something that simple hasn’t occurred to me? This type of conversation often circles back to the first statement about not praying hard enough, and I get asked if I was sincere when I asked to be healed. Excuse me? Nah, I like functioning like this. I guess I should reevaluate my priorities and ask again, more sincerely this time.
And lastly, really? Really? The Devil’s just wandering around giving out colds, pneumonia, the plague, and genetic disorders? And more importantly, what makes you so presumptuous as to assume that because you’re healthy you’re more pious or righteous than I am? I understand that this often isn’t what is meant, but it is implied, and it is very hurtful – and to a non-Christian, unbelievably condescending.
Why is it so hard for Christians to simply acknowledge that bad things can (and do) happen and that sometimes that means people get sick, and stay sick? Or to see that illness, as a whole, can be a symptom of a greater problem? For example; why are cancers so much more prevalent these days, why are asthma cases increasing in certain areas of the country, and why are obesity and childhood diabetes becoming an epidemic?
Yes, we should be praying for healing, but are we praying for the right type of healing? How about praying that we take better care of the only planet God gave us? What about praying for wisdom in using new chemicals and drugs or familiar chemicals in new ways? What about praying for guidance in using new technologies? And then, what about acting on those prayers and using our God-given brains and our faith to guide us when using new technologies and sciences?
Why is it so hard to understand that actions have consequences and some of those consequences may be global in nature? Pollution can cause and aggravate asthma. Diet choices, food availability, and chemicals can influence obesity and other health issues. Chemicals in the ground water can affect people, plants, and animals. The choices we have made in the past affect the environment in which we live today. And the choices we make now will affect the planet we leave for future generations.
To many, this sounds “all Hippie-Dippie”. But, if we truly believe we are being stewards of God’s Creation, we better start taking a hard look at our methods of stewardship and the end results. I believe God created this world to function in a certain way, how are we treating his greatest design? As Christians, maybe we need a different understanding of what our God given relationship is with the planet, the health of the ecosystems, and the health of the human race.
Because quite frankly, I don’t believe that the strength of my faith, or lack thereof, has much to do with my health. Yes, I believe God can heal the sick and he knows that I’m suffering. But I try to let my faith in a God who created the world help me better understand the relationship between His Creation, my health, my actions and the results of those actions instead of using it as crutch or as an excuse for my well being.
I will continue to pray for good health, healing and and guidance and I will continue to smile politely when people tell me to “pray harder”. But, I’m not going to continue to drink milk and just pray that God takes the hives away. There’s a simple solution. God gave me the ability to understand that if milk gives me hives, I shouldn’t drink/eat milk.
I’m sick. There’s a reason. I just don’t know what that reason is yet. And quite frankly, I may never know. Maybe my prayer life isn’t strong enough for you, but it’s strong enough for me. I just have to keep praying that I can make it through the next crazy health crisis, and that I have the willpower to keep from eating cheese!